How to Have a Campfire With No Smoke

Written by chris magyar
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How to Have a Campfire With No Smoke
Minimise campfire smoke by working with dry wood and properly igniting the fire. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Campfire smoke is a constant thorn in campers' sides. While the smoke does keep mosquitoes away, it is also a nuisance and a potential health hazard. A completely smoke-free campfire experience is only possible with portable gas campfires, but it is possible to build a wood campfire that minimises smoke, especially if you're willing to haul in prepared wood supplies for the fire.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Dry firewood
  • Newspaper
  • Grill lighter
  • Small dry twigs
  • Garden trowel

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  1. 1

    Dig a fire pit. Even if your site has a fire pit ready, be sure to clear it of any twigs, needles, trash, or other debris that may have drifted in. If your site does not have an already-built fire pit, clear an area the size of a hula hoop with a garden trowel and surround it with nearby stones.

  2. 2

    Crumple a piece of newspaper loosely, and place it in the centre of the firepit. A tightly crumpled piece of newsprint won't allow enough oxygen for the fire to heat up.

  3. 3

    Create a "tepee" of small wood pieces and dry twigs around the newsprint. The tips should meet at the top like a letter A.

  4. 4

    Place three or four medium-sized pieces of wood around the small kindling. These pieces should be about twice the size of the small kindling, and placed far enough apart to keep air circulating between the kindling, but close enough to reflect heat to each other.

  5. 5

    Light the newsprint with the grill lighter. Protect the small flame from any wind gusts by standing between the wind and the fire if necessary.

  6. 6

    Once the kindling has caught, add dry pieces of firewood, two at a time, to the top of the pile. Always keep two fingers' worth of air between the pieces. Repeat until the flames are twice as tall as the wood pile.

Tips and warnings

  • Use the most dry wood possible. Recently split wood ignites best.
  • Never let a campfire overwhelm the size of the fire pit. There should always be enough room for one hiking boot inside the circle without touching fire.

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